Rebuking False Teachers
H. Clay Williams
West Texas Lectureship
April 9, 2007
Topic: Rebuke of False Teachers:
Text: 1 Tim 1:1-7
This passage deals with another ministerial charge given to every Gospel minister—to be a
defender of the faith. Some say I’ll just keep the charge of “Preaching the Gospel” myself and leave the judgment of what others preach to themselves and God. But here, in this passage, there is an additional charge given to every Gospel preacher the duty of “not only preaching the Gospel” but also, the additional task of “defending the Gospel”. It is the duty of every Gospel preacher, young or old, to guard against and correct false teachers. Paul said of himself, in Philippians 1:17, “… knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel."
Timothy was in Ephesus and Paul was in Macedonia, a great distance apart. Ephesus was in Asia and Macedonia was in Europe, north of Greece. Note that Paul had to urge Timothy to stay at Ephesus. He was to “stay on the job”. One reason Gospel Preachers must stay on the job is that false teachers are busy trying to capture Christians. There were teachers of false doctrines in Paul’s day just as there are today, and we must take them seriously. These false teachers have no good news for child of God or lost sinners. They seek instead to lead Christians astray and capture them for their causes.
The church was in trouble because false teaching had seeped in, and the church needed Timothy. Apparently, Timothy felt incapable and wanted to join Paul until Paul could return to Ephesus and handle the situation himself. However, false teaching is so serious a matter that it has to be handled immediately when it raises its ugly head.
I. Because False Teachers teach a different doctrine (v.3).
II. Because False Teachers give heed to speculations and questions rather than godly edification
III. Because False Teachers put empty discussion above love (v.5-6).
IV. Because False Teachers put ambition and personal ideas above the truth (v.7).
I. (1:3) Because False Teachers Teach a Different Doctrine
Timothy had to remain in Ephesus so that he could charge the church to stop the false teaching. The word “charge” (paraggelloô PWS: 544) is a strong word. It is a military word that means to pass commands down through the ranks. Paul used military language to help Timothy and his people see the seriousness of the problem (1 Tim. 1:3). παραγγελλω [paraggellō], old verb, to transmit a message along (παρα [para]) from one to another. Charge means “to give strict orders from a superior officer.” Paul used this word (sometimes translated “commandment” and “command” in kjv) eight times in his two letters to Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3, 5, 18; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13, 17; 2 Tim. 4:1). He was conveying this idea: “Timothy, you are not only a pastor of the church in a difficult city. You are also a Christian soldier under orders from the King. Now pass these orders along to the soldiers in your church!”
What was the order? “Do not teach different doctrines from those taught by Paul!”
Observe, 1. Ministers must not only be charged to preach the true doctrine of the gospel, but charged to preach no other doctrine. Timothy was to give orders and charge the false teachers to stop teaching false doctrine, and if this did not work, he was to order and charge the church to handle the false teachers. This says several things about the church at Ephesus.
1. The leaders had not heeded the word of Paul when he had met with them earlier
(Acts 20:17-38). He had warned them about false teachers.
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:28-31).
2. The leaders had not insisted upon the purity of the gospel as Paul had done and
taught. They had allowed the Word of God to become corrupted.
“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:17).
3. Timothy was to charge the ministers, teachers, and leaders to preach no other
doctrine than the doctrine of God’s Word.
ÞThey were not to add to the doctrine of God’s Word.
ÞThey were not to take away from the doctrine of God’s Word.
ÞThey were not to formulate new doctrines for the church.
They were not to make what they thought were improvements nor to correct what they thought were defects in the Word of God. They were not to change or alter the Word of God to any degree whatsoever. In the clear words of this verse: “charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” As stewards of the “one faith” they were not to search out a strange one.
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-9)
“Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:12).
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8)
“Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines” (Hebrews 13:9).
In the times of the apostles there were attempts made to corrupt Christianity (we are not as many, who corrupt the word, 2 Co. 2:17), otherwise this charge to Timothy might have been spared. 3. He must not only see to it that he did not preach any other doctrine, but he must charge others that they might not add anything of their own to the gospel, or take anything from it, but that they preach it pure and uncorrupt. Some in our ranks today would call Paul and Timothy Brotherhood Policeman. However they were ridiculed, would still carry out the charge to rebuke false teachers and charge them to teach no other doctrine.
What is meant by the “phase” “other doctrine”? He says in verse 10, “and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;" (1 Timothy 1:10, KJV) That is “contrary to” that is, “lies against” sound doctrine. So what is “other doctrine”? He says in 1 Tim 6:3, ““If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness”
What are “other doctrines” being taught today in the Lord’s churches. Some include; “salvation by Grace Alone” and “any denominational baptism will do” instead of the “One Baptism” and “any church will do” instead of “the one church which is the one body of Christ” There are also other doctrines about New Testament worship being taught: such as “Worship any way you want to” instead of Worship in Spirit and In Truth, “Praise Team Worship” instead of Congregational Worship, “Sing, dance, and Clap along” instead of “Sing and make melody in the Heart”, “Get you Praise On” instead of “Praise, that is the “fruit of the Lip” giving thanks to his name” All the former are “other” different doctrines that must not be taught.
II. (1:3) Because False Teachers give heed to speculations and questions rather than godly edification (v.4).
No better description of false teaching could be given than what this verse gives:
“[False teaching] is fables and endless genealogies, which give rise to questions, rather than godly edifying.”
1. The word “fables” (muthois PWS: 1411) refers to all forms of false and fictional teaching or doctrine. It means the false ideas and speculations of men about God and Christ and the teachings of God’s Word. The doctrines of men are only speculations, fables, narratives, stories, fictions, and falsehoods (A.T. Robertson. Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol.4, p.561).
“But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto
godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7).
“And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:4).
“Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth” (Titus 1:14).
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).
Some were “giving assent to” things such as endless fables and genealogies. Sound doctrine was no longer their priority and primacy.
2. The word “genealogies” refers to those who take comfort in a godly heritage. The Jews were guilty of this. They took great pride in their godly forefathers, so much so that they felt that the godliness of their forefathers rubbed off on them. The more godly forefathers they had in their roots, the more prestigious and acceptable they felt before God and men. They felt that the stronger their roots, the more man and God would accept and esteem them. Note the reference to “endless genealogies.”
3. Some want to study and preach the “genealogies of the church”. Alexander Cambell, Barton Stone, the Restoration movement. They want us to trace the church of Christ from the days of the apostles, one congregation at a time before they believe it’s the one church. They want to analyze the rightness or wrongness of Marshall Keeble’s baptism to determine whether we are Christians today. They say we came from the Ana-Baptist. They don’t know that the seed of the kingdom is the Word of God.
III. (1:5) Because False Teachers put empty discussion above Love
The end of God’s commandment to men is love (agapeô, God’s kind of love). Therefore, ministers and teachers are to focus upon growing in love and in teaching love. The great call of believers is...
·to know the love of God and to love God.
·to love each other as brothers in the Lord.
·to love the lost of the world so much that we are driven to take the gospel to
But note where this kind of love comes from. Its source is not found in men; it does not just arise out of the heart of man. The love which we are to know and possess comes from three sources.
ÞLove comes from a pure heart: a heart forgiven by God and cleansed from all
impurities; a heart that is not weighed down by selfishness, worldliness, envy,
covetousness, and immorality.
ÞLove comes from a good conscience: a conscience that knows there is nothing
between it and God, between it and men; a conscience that knows it has been
true to God’s Word and has taught no error.
ÞLove comes from unfeigned or sincere faith: a faith that is set upon God and
His Word, that holds to God’s Word and trusts and teaches God’s Word and
God’s Word only.
The end of God’s commandment—of all that God has ever said to man—is love. Therefore, a true believer commits his life to learn more and more about the love of God and to teach the love of God more and more. But to do this he must be totally committed...
·to having a pure heart before God.
·to having a good (clear) conscience before God.
·to following the faith, that is, the teachings and doctrine of God’s Word.
However, this is not true with some—not true with false teachers. Note exactly what Scripture says: some have swerved and turned aside to empty discussions. The term “vain jangling” sounds just like what false teaching amounts to: janglings—vain, empty janglings. The term means empty arguments, discussions, and speculations—the speculative ideas of men about God, Christ, and the Word of God. Note that false teachers swerve and turn aside from the doctrines of God’s Word to these vain janglings.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:1-2).
“For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision” (Titus 1:10).
“Should a wise man utter vain knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind? Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good?” (Job 15:2-3).
“The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness” (Eccles. 10:13).
There is a tough side of the Love of God: "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." (Hebrews 12:6, KJV) "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." (Revelation 3:19, KJV)
What if these False teachers did not repent after Rebuke for Timothy: Paul gave Timothy further instruction: "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself." (1 Timothy 6:3-5, KJV)
IV. (1:7) Because False Teachers put their own ambition and personal ideas above the Truth
The picture is that of a person who is ambitious..
·to be recognized as an original teacher or preacher.
·to be recognized as a creative person.
·to be recognized as the creator of a novel idea or doctrine.
·to be recognized as the author of a new concept or doctrine.
·to be recognized as the founder of a new movement.
The picture is that of a person who so desires to fit in with the latest fashion of teaching that he neglects or ignores the truth. He disregards the truth in order to fit in with his peers. The false teacher’s ambition is allowed to cloud his understanding of the truth.
Barclay points out that the false teacher who is ambitious often...
·demonstrates arrogance instead of humility.
·focuses upon teaching rather than learning.
·looks down upon simple-minded people.
·regards those who do not agree with his conclusions as ignorant fools
Desiring Religious Titles and prestige:
"And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them." (Luke 5:17, KJV)
"Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;" (Acts 5:34, KJV)
"And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant." (Matthew 23:7-11, KJV)
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Don’t know what they are saying nor confirming:
“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).
“For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9).
“Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2).
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:3).
“Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (Titus 1:11).
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their
pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not and their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Peter 2:1-3).